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UMW students learn a real lesson in giving

December 8, 2011 12:10 am



A University of Mary Washington philanthropy class has given a total of $10,000 to Rappahannock Legal Services, the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic and Stafford Junction.

For the past seven years, students enrolled in Economics of Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector have given money to nonprofit organizations in the Fredericksburg area.

Students presented checks to this year's winning organizations at a ceremony this week. UMW senior Ashley Cameron said the class received 51 applications.

"This opportunity has allowed us to dip our toes into potential career paths, but also assist in serving our community in a new way," Cameron said.

The grants were:

$2,400 toward the Moss Free Clinic's diabetes management and home testing program. The nonprofit will purchase glucose test strips with the money.

$3,600 to Stafford Junction--a faith-based nonprofit for low-income youths and their families--to send 20 children ages 3 and 4 to the Rappahannock Area YMCA's preschool for nine months.

$4,000 for computers to Rappahannock Legal Services, which provides free civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and families.

In the past, seed money for the donations has come from Fredericksburg philanthropist Doris Buffett's Sunshine Lady Foundation. This fall, Buffett's newly formed Learning by Giving Foundation paid for the course at UMW and eight other colleges.

"I just know that you put a lot into it this year, and I'm very proud of you," Buffett told students at this week's ceremony. "And I think you probably had a pretty good time while you were learning, right? Because it's real."

The class chose organizations that promote better health and education for the disadvantaged.

Moss Free Clinic patients currently aren't able to check their blood glucose levels as often as they need to, said Stacy Pierce, the clinic's development director.

The grant "will allow them to check more often giving our providers more critical information that they need for diabetes care and management," she said.

Stafford Junction Executive Director Linda Hill said the organization started sending preschoolers to the YMCA on Nov. 1 at a reduced rate of $20 a month. The grant will guarantee that the children can stay in the program for the rest of the school year.

"We were struggling with how awful it would be if we got to the point that we didn't have the money to actually pay the 20 dollars," she said.

Rappahannock Legal Services Director Ann Kloeckner said she hopes to replace four outdated computers with the grant.

In fact, a computer died the same day she learned they would receive money from the philanthropy class.

"It was affecting our ability to represent our clients," Kloeckner said of the old computers. "It was just too slow, it was too cumbersome, they would constantly break down, they would freeze. One of our attorneys was actually late to court because he was trying to download something."

Doug Searcy, UMW's vice president for student affairs, told students that the philanthropy class doesn't stop at the university.

"I imagine that likely this course has changed how you view life and maybe how you'll make decisions in the future as well," he said.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402

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